When the Fitton Center for Creative Arts’ Executive Director Ian MacKenzie-Thurley reflects on the organization’s 2015 season, a smile comes across his face, because he knows the center is growing in the many ways it serves the community.
In August, the Fitton Center’s 2015-2016 season launch event saw a crowd of more than 700 people attend. MacKenzie-Thurley told attendees that the center has witness a 50 percent increase in memberships, three sold-out shows and over 60 events hosted in the past two months and upgrades to its facilities and parking lot.
But what has him really fired up is the the launch of a brand new program called StreetSpark, which is a public art initiative in partnership with the city of Hamilton.
StreetSpark will bring new murals to the streets of Hamilton by the summer of 2016. These new murals will enhance the city’s visual appeal and connect residents, businesses, and visitors with the arts, according to a statement by city officials.
“StreetSpark sees yet another fantastic step in the artistic and community development of Hamilton,” MacKenzie-Thurley said. “The program is a true collaboration between the city of Hamilton and the Fitton Center for Creative Arts. It’s very exciting and speaks to both partner’s commitment to developing the cultural identity of the city.”
He added that Jenn Acus-Smith heads the new venture as part of her new role as Director of Education & Outreach at the Fitton Center. She will be working closely with artists, stakeholders and community representatives in creating new murals and public art throughout Hamilton. With the early focus being on the downtown areas of High and Main Streets before exploring opportunities across all of Hamilton.
City Manger Joshua Smith said he feels the StreetSpark program will be important to the arts scene in Hamilton.
“I see great potential for this program with the partnership between the City and the Fitton Center,” he said in a statement. “The Parks Conservancy mural completely transformed their building. This is another way in which we are working to improve our appearance and support the arts in Hamilton.”
The first mural has already been created (it was done in 2015) and is on the facade of the Hamilton Parks Conservancy building, 106 N. 2nd St. A selection committee will be in charge of selecting the next three designs.